Why P-Noy didn't rush making Dolphy a National Artist
AS I WRECK THIS CHAIR By William M. Esposo
The Philippine Star 2012-07-17
Your Chair Wrecker’s May 8th column (“Are Dolphy, Nora and Vilma qualified to be National Artists?”) delved on the need to properly select our National Artists.

In that column, your Chair Wrecker wrote: “There have been many controversies in the past over the nomination of certain National Artists and many of these protests against previous nominees had raised valid issues. These days, there’s another controversy brewing with the way some folks have been eyeing comedy king Dolphy, Vilma Santos and Nora Aunor as candidates for National Artist.

When we nominate National Artists — that should result in Filipino pride and recognition all over the world, and not become another point of derision. If Filipinos are to nominate freely as National Artists those persons who don’t qualify as artists, we’ll be adding another point to what many other nationals hold against us. To be considered a National Artist is to be named one of the finest of your race and country in a given artistic field. If we nominate somebody who isn’t qualified at all, then we only demean ourselves.

The below par media standard in our country has resulted in a public appreciation that’s way below the accepted global norm. Our media freely talk about “artists” when in fact they’re referring to entertainers. Singers are falsely called recording artists. Some entertainers could be considered artists when they meet certain criteria but being a very popular entertainer, even for a long time, doesn’t mean that one has risen to the level of artist.”

Shortly after running that May 8 column on how we should select our National Artists, your Chair Wrecker sent President Noynoy Aquino (P-Noy) a text message to suggest that the government should consider the recommended points. He was fully supportive of the move to apply the proper standards when selecting National Artists and that this should be religiously followed. 

Three years ago, the unlamented Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (GMA) regime got embroiled in a controversy over the selection of National Artists. It was reported that the GMA administration took a direct hand in pushing for the awards that reaped wide scale criticism, a lot of them from previous National Artist awardees. We select National Artists every three years and that controversial selection three years ago necessitated the imposition of correct standards when selecting the 2012 batch.

Although P-Noy agreed to following the proper selection process when nominating National Artists, he made this remark about the case of Dolphy: “In high school, we had lectures on the question art for art’s sake or art for man’s sake. If it doesn’t communicate, then it leaves one vulnerable to emulating the emperor trying out his new clothes. Dolphy has used humor to focus on ills of our society. Has he therefore not uplifted our condition?” This clearly establishes that P-Noy recognizes Dolphy’s qualification to be nominated a National Artist. It doesn’t mean though that he sees Vilma and Nora differently but that he sees no problem nominating Dolphy.

As early as May, P-Noy was ready to declare Dolphy a National Artist. If there weren’t any objectors, P-Noy could have circumvented the process of selecting a National Artist and he could have given Dolphy the distinction even before he passed away or last week after the comedy king had passed away. However, P-Noy isn’t an ancient Roman emperor and will not pander to the fickle wishes of the mob. He opted instead to be guided by the bigger national objective to institute system reform.
One of the vital cogs of his DAANG MATUWID (straight path) mandate is system reform. P-Noy hopes to leave as his legacy a reformed system that promotes instead of circumvents our democratic processes. He realizes that good governance will not extend beyond his term that ends in 2016 if it isn’t institutionalized in our system.

Had P-Noy used his power to accelerate the process for selecting our National Artists — then he would also be in violation of the NO WANG WANG (sirens, as symbols of rank and privilege) policy. Not only that, but he would have undermined the selection process and jeopardized system reform. The essence of system reform is enforcing the right ethical standard that’s to be followed by all, and with no exception.

Many of us frown upon our politicians when they demonstrate the opposite of doing well without patting one’s self in the back. However, few Filipinos appreciate this sterling quality of our president. The easiest thing to do in our country is to find a hundred politicians who would grab a rare opportunity to grandstand before a national audience. Only a president with a powerful and passionate sense of mission could have resisted doing that. P-Noy did.

P-Noy knew that he would have been popularly hailed had he used his power and declared Dolphy a National Artist. It takes a man with no feelings of insecurity to make the choice to respect the system and the process despite the clamor of the mob and the media. It’s hard not to admire this president.

* * *

Shakespeare: “Madness in great ones must not unwatched go.”

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It had to happen on The Ides of March and Holy Week

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Election lawyer: PCOS critics should put up or shut up

All Excited by Pope Francis

A great disservice to P-Noy

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